The Blithe Sons Arm of the Starfish

[Family Vineyard; 2004]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: organic free-folk, neo-psychedelia
Others: Hala Strana, Campfire Songs, Thuja, The Birdtree

The Blithe Sons are part of a small new trend in recording, in that they record their albums with a sense of voyeuristic quality attached to them. It's a concept of recording an album that contains silent bits of space accompanied by a not-so-traditional way of production, creating an unfamiliar style to the average listener. This has become quite popular in the past several years as a way of producing a different type of ambiance between the medium (musician/music) and the listener.

Like previous recordings by this Jewelled Antler duo of Glenn Donaldson and Loren Chasse, Arm of the Starfish is shared by the soundscapes of nature and a multitude of unordinary instruments that are ever-so-gently strummed, crafting a silent, yet endearing piece of work. Of this particular genre, The Blithe Sons are by far the most talented at creating a disposition that is rarely paralleled by their short list of colleagues.

At times you hear footsteps, at other times you hear wind, trees, streams, and other types of wholly organic sounds. The guitars put off subtle hints of feedback, but never become obtrusive to the rest of the sounds involved. In fact, nothing on the album ever fights for position, and only infrequently will you hear the delicate vocals of Glenn Donaldson. Unlike a lot of "performance" type music, however, everything on The Blithe Sons' albums is done with the most precise placement and subtlety. That's the real challenge, isn’t it?

Truth be known, this is some excellent music to listen to. It's gentle, chaotic, interesting, deep, unobtrusive, and beautiful -- all in one. If you are someone who enjoys this type of new-folk that is hitting the shelves, search no further than The Blithe Sons to give you the epitome of what this genre is about. The entire Jewelled Antler Collective, in fact, is generating some of the freshest material I've heard in the past few years. Arm of the Starfish is one of the best and a highlight for this group of artists.

1. Sparkling Diatoms
2. Sun Anenome
3. Animals of the Seashore
4. Foam
5. Sea-Glass